What is a K-1 Visa?
A K-1 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen to enter the United States. It requires that the couple get married within 90 days of entry, or depart the United States. Once the couple marries, the foreign citizen can adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States (Green Card holder).
What are the requirements for the K-1 Visa?
You may be eligible to bring your fiancé(e) to the United States on a fiancé(e) visa if you meet the following requirements:
You are a U.S. citizen;
You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa;
You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (this means you both are legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment); and
You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before you file your petition. You may request a waiver of this in-person meeting requirement if you can show that meeting in person would:
Violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
Result in extreme hardship to you, the U.S. citizen petitioner.
What is the K-1 Visa Process?
It is a multi-step process that requires you to deal with three different agencies: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At each stage in the process, background and security checks may be conducted on both you and your fiancé(e). This may include checks in various databases for national security, criminal history, and other information about you and your fiancé(e). These checks are conducted using fingerprints, names, or other biographic or biometric information.
Step 1: Petition for Fiancé(e) – USCIS: File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) which asks USCIS to recognize the relationship between you and your fiancé(e) and submit supporting documentation. Upon approval of the petition, USCIS will send the approved Form I-129F to the Department of State (DOS) National Visa Center (NVC).
Step 2: Visa Application – DOS: The NVC forwards the approved Form I-129F to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. This is generally the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) lives. The U.S. Embassy or consulate notifies you when the visa interview for your fiancé(e) is scheduled. Your fiancé(e) applies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa and brings the required forms and documents to the visa interview.
Step 3: Inspection at a Port of Entry – CBP
If DOS approves the application and issues a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé(e) travels to the United States and seeks admission at a port of entry while the K-1 nonimmigrant visa is valid. As with any visa, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa does not guarantee admission to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will make the ultimate decision about whether to admit your fiancé(e). Thus, it is very important to prepare not only for the interview at the consulate but also for the CBP interview at your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States.
Step 4: Marriage
If your fiancé(e) is admitted as a K-1 nonimmigrant, you and your fiancé(e) have 90 days to marry each other.
Step 5: Adjustment of Status – USCIS: If you marry within 90 days, your fiancé(e)—now your spouse—may apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and submitting the required documentation. You and your spouse will usually be required to appear for an interview. If you were married for less than two years at the time the Form I-485 is approved, USCIS will grant your spouse conditional permanent resident status and issue a Green Card valid for 2 years. Your spouse will need to remove the conditions on his or her residence by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence in the 90 days before his or her Green Card expires.
Certain conditions and activities may make the applicant, ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you have questions about visa eligibility, please contact us. We are here to help. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
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